On this episode of the Taking the Hire Road show hosted by Jeremy Reymer, Founder of DriverReach, Doug Marcello, the Chief Legal Officer of Bluewire and a shareholder with Saxton & Stump law firm, took center stage as a champion for the trucking industry.
Truck drivers play a vital role in society, delivering essential goods like food, medical supplies, and fuel to keep our daily lives running smoothly. However, when accidents involving semi-trucks occur, there's a troubling tendency to automatically place blame on truck drivers, even when they might not be at fault. These situations can escalate into lawsuits against trucking companies and their drivers.
In recent years, the trucking industry has been grappling with the rise of nuclear verdicts, which are exorbitantly high damage awards from civil cases, sometimes exceeding $10 million. Such penalties can spell disaster for many companies, potentially leading to their downfall.
Marcello, a seasoned trucking defense attorney, believes that the industry needs to combat this trend of treating companies involved in accidents as profit centers.
But why are nuclear verdicts becoming more prevalent? Marcello suggests that advertising, including billboards and TV commercials, has contributed to the perception of trucks as "18-wheel ATMs." Social inflation, which refers to the increasing cost of insurance claim payouts, also plays a role. Marcello notes that some jurors may have become desensitized to large sums due to high-profile cases in the media, often involving celebrities.
Another reason for the surge in nuclear verdicts, according to Marcello, is the "reptile theory." He explains that nuclear verdicts rarely focus on the accident itself; instead, they revolve around systemic failures and the perception that these failures pose a community-wide threat, affecting not only the plaintiffs but the entire community.
In essence, some plaintiffs and their lawyers use these cases to address systemic issues, warping the justice system's focus from determining whether a driver acted reasonably in an accident to placing absolute fault on the defendant.
"One of the primary systemic failures that the plaintiff attorneys try to prey upon is the qualification of the driver in the accident," Marcello highlights.
In today's litigious climate, trucking companies cannot afford to put unqualified drivers on the road or ignore red flags in their hiring processes. Mishaps involving unqualified drivers could spell doom for a business.
Preventing nuclear verdicts is crucial, and that's why Bluewire, a software-as-a-service company, leverages publicly available data to help trucking companies identify vulnerabilities within their operations. By addressing these vulnerabilities proactively, companies can mitigate potential issues before they escalate.